You say you want your spouse to talk to you about the affair. You have questions that you need answered for your own sanity and healing. But it seems like the two of you can never have an adequate or meaningful conversation about the affair. You’re starting to feel like your affair recovery is hindered because of his hang-ups with opening up about it. Are you sure that you aren’t contributing to his reluctance to answer your questions?
While you can’t control him and his willingness to talk about the affair, you can assess yourself and determine if you hinder the efforts that he does make to communicate with you.
Honestly ask yourself the following questions:
Do I interrupt?
Do I listen so I can say “Gotcha!”
Do I judge?
Do I accuse him of lying?
Do I shut him down with criticism or utterances of derision or belittling?
Am I defensive?
Do I break down in overwhelm?
Do I add unnecessary drama?
Do I show respect for his feelings?
You also want to do what you can to contribute to an inviting environment for communication. You want to foster his sense of security with you, not put him in defense mode.
Ask yourself if you consistently behave in the following ways:
You speak in a moderate tone of voice.
You are forthright and honest.
Your words and tone of voice communicate respect.
Your words are edifying and positive.
Your questions genuinely seek to understand.
You show an interest in his feelings and activities.
You volunteer to participate in activities your spouse enjoys.
You spend time with your spouse just for the sake of being with him, not only when you want answers.
You treat your spouse better than anyone else.
You perceive your spouse as an equal partner in life, not a needy person you’re stronger than.
You can probably remember a time earlier in your relationship when your spouse was comfortable enough with you that he could open up and be himself with you. How did you listen to him when you were dating? Did you give him your complete attention or were you thinking about what you were going to say next while he was speaking? Most likely, everything about your nonverbal and verbal communication let him know that what he was conveying to you was of utmost importance to you. Does he still feel that way when he tries to talk to you?
Affair recovery can be such a tricky time to navigate through. You’re hurt and emotionally spent. The last thing you feel like doing is catering to your unfaithful spouse’s emotional needs. But the truth is, by helping him feel safe to communicate, you are helping yourself too.
Maybe there are things you can do as the listener to promote better understanding around the affair. Maybe you can go deeper on this topic if you do a few things differently. Communication is a two-way street. Work on your end and in time, you will be much more likely to see the results you want on his end.